This blogging thing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I've been thinking a lot about blogging recently. 

The blogging world is quite a phenomenon, if you ask me. As soon as I turn on my computer, I am able to peer into the lives of all kinds of people: how they design their bedrooms, what they're cooking for dinner, what their political convictions are, what costumes their kids wore for Halloween. I can celebrate a new marriage with them, grieve the loss of a loved one, or be inspired by a craft they made or a lesson they learned.

And yet, at the end of the day, I'm just a girl sitting at my computer who will most likely never meet the girl sitting at her computer somewhere else in the world.

Another facet to this phenomenon is that I can write anything I want to on this little blog of mine and you may get the idea that it's the whole picture of who I am. I can show you the beautiful highs of my life and you may get the picture that everything in my world is pretty close to perfect. In fact, it would be much easier to just stay behind the computer screen. I could make lots and lots of blogger friends and we could comment on each other's blogs and boost each other's egos. It would be so much easier than stepping out and being a real life friend. Much easier than enduring awkward silence. Much easier than unraveling our pasts and revealing our brokenness.

But you know what? That stepping out is authenticity. That is what I want. And that, as I've been recently convicted, is what we're called to as believers.

I listened to a sermon today by Tim Keller about friendship. I could go on and on about what I learned, but ultimately, I came away with the strong conviction that I could be such a better friend than I am. I blame lots of things for not staying in touch with those I am closest to. Mainly, I'm just so busy. What I realized today, though, is that "I'm too busy" is not going to cut it. Relationships, like very few things in this world, have eternal impact. And what am I so busy with anyway? Work and school, yes. Being a wife, yes. All the other stuff? It can wait. If I'm not spending time pouring into someone or having them pour into my life because I'm catching up on emails or working on a blog post, there's just something wrong.

It makes me sad when I hear news about close friends through their blogs before I hear it straight from them. It makes me sad when one of my friends tells me, "Oh yeah, I read that on your blog" when I should have told them first. There's just no substitute for face to face, real life relationship. And whether you're blogging as a hobby or as a profession, I think that truth applies to you.

So in my own life, some things are going to change. Whatever pressure I was feeling to blog a certain number of times per week, to blog about specific subjects that elicit more comments, to have a certain number of followers... all of that is over right now. I want the first purpose of my blog to glorify my Lord Jesus Christ. But if I'm not serving Him well with good use of my time, how can my blog be glorifying to Him? My other purpose in blogging is to document our lives so that years down the road, Shawn and I (and, Lord willing, our children and grandchildren) will see the unmistakable goodness and grace of God in our story. And that's it! Those are the purposes. When I put things into perspective like that, it's so freeing!

I read this verse this morning and in light of what I've been thinking about, it really stood out to me:

 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; 
the LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.  
Psalm 147:10-11

I could reword it like this:
His pleasure is not in my Microbiology grade... nor his delight in what I cook for dinner... how clear my photos turn out... how well I portray myself to the watching world...
The Lord delights in me because I fear him, because I put my hope in his unfailing love.

Isn't that so freeing when we put our priorities in order? It is for me!

At the end of my life, I want to look back and see myself living the adventure of the Christian life to the very fullest, walking closely with the Lord, loving and serving my husband with passion and joy, loving on my family and friends until they can hardly stand it, and giving of my time and resources to the poor. I don't just want to read about other people doing these things, I want to be in on it!

In light of all of that, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Don't worry, I won't be offended if you completely disagree with my perspective. But I'd love to know, if you're a blogger, how you balance these things? How do you live in the tension?

11 comments:

  1. Thanks for this, Whitney. I've read your blog on and off, and find this perspective to be so true, at least in my life. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share!

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  2. i LOVED this whitney! thank you! for me, blogging has proved to be yet another thing i must pray and pray (and pray!) for wisdom about!

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  3. I enjoyed this today. I do agree that you glorify God in everything, but as a new believer it seems like you always have it together and everything is perfect for you. I find myself asking why can't I have the perfect life like Whitney? She has the perfect house, gets the perfect deals, has the best romantic husband, can sew perfect, and the list goes on and on because that's always what you post. I know it's not perfect, and sometimes it would be nice to read that too. You are beautiful and have a great soul, but when I see you I see perfect and that's not real life.

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  4. Aw sweet friend. This was so beautifully put. I've loved wrestling with you over these issues as of late & I've loved processing it with you. Thank you for being willing to just openly share & encourage us all to take a step back and think about the "why" in what we're doing. I know that your heart in blogging has always been to encourage & not tear down, and to bring glory to God while documenting the things that HE has done in your & Shawn's lives. As a friend of yours for 5 years now I've seen you do this not just in this area, but in our "real lives." So thanks for being that person here & there.

    I'd just encourage anyone reading this blog who may be feeling similar to 'anonymous,' that just as important as it is for the person blogging to be intentional about how they blog & what they blog about- it's just as important as a blog reader to be intentional about how you're reading.

    As a reader of blogs- what is your goal? Is it to come to someone else's blog and compare how your life measures up to theirs? Do you have the expectation that what you'll be getting when you come to a stranger's blog is 100% of their life? Goals and expectations like these are crippling- and therefore can lead to discontentment and ungratefulness. And I know because I've so done that with other people's blogs.

    Here are just a few ideas for God-gloryifying reading that I really try to keep in mind when coming to other people's blogs- especially people's blogs that have things that I don't- that I would love to have:

    1. Rejoice with other people's triumphs & joys
    2. Gather ideas for life- both in practical & spiritual matters.
    3. Enjoy beauty- whether it be through photography, or cooking, or crafting, or whatever inspires you.
    4. Connect with like-minded people & be thankful for them- not envious of them.

    This list is obviously not always upheld in my blog reading, and it's sad to think of how easily we can lust after what others have. If we can manage to read blogs with these goals in mind (and the realization that we do not get the "whole picture" of someone's life in their blog) it frees us up to enjoy and be edified by bloggers.

    Hope that makes sense- Whit don't laugh at my novel sized comment. :)

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  5. Thanks for these words, Whitney. Honestly, I haven't figured out that tension between desiring to develop connections on the web via an interesting blog and simply living my life off line. I think very strong relationships can actually be built via this strange, relatively new world of blogging -- I met my husband on Xanga, after all! But there is definitely a frustrating pressure (which NO ONE but myself puts on me!) to achieve online notoriety. It's hard to just enjoy this medium of communication without that pressure. I'm still frustrated that I can only seem to make one post a week, but that's my life right now. There ARE other, important things tugging at my time. I just need to put whatever time is necessary into what God has put before me TODAY, be faithful with that, and if he gives me a few minutes here and there to share my world with the beautiful other people around the world I've been able to "connect" with, I'm even more appreciative of that time.

    I appreciate Kirra's words so much, too. I've definitely struggled with watching the lives of other bloggers with envy. The Lord has been teaching me A LOT lately about contentment in all that he has given me, and about simply enjoying with my friends all he has given them. However you look at it, HE is the giver so we can praise HIM.

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  6. Whitney,

    I found your blog through Kirra's. I like coming over here every once in awhile and looking at you DIY projects or recipes. I've really enjoyed your writing and am encouraged by it. I'm commenting for the first time, cause today's post really hit home for me. My husband is always encouraging me to keep my priorities straight. Something I can struggle with. I can get bogged down by what to cook for dinner or stressed that I didn't get everything done on my to do list without being concerned about my attitude and if I'm glorifying the Lord with my actions.
    Blogging can be the same thing...and I'm definitely learning the balance. And I appreciate what Kirra wrote about motives for writing and reading. Blogging and reading others blogs can be a huge blessing, but we shouldn't let it turn into an area of sin in our lives. Thanks for sharing your heart about this.
    J

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  7. Thank you so much for your honesty in this post, Whitney! It's all about perspective and priorities, and I'm grateful to the Lord for you sharing those convictions. And thanks to Kirra, too, for her thoughts--totally needed this reminder. I don't know either of you in "real life" but you are both a blessing.

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  8. Whitney~

    I agree with everything you said! This is something I was just talking about with my husband the other night...Blogging is so interesting (in both reading and writing) but it can be crippling to an extent. In my blog, for example, I started it as an online letter to our out of town family and friends, to keep up with our life. Then a friend who is a women's speaker asked to link to my blog on her site. All of a sudden I had an audience of more than 5. I became wrapped up in checking to see how much traffic I had generated and what could I post that would attract more people and how could I do things that would make my blog as cool as someone else's. And then I realized (and it didn't take long, fortunately) that this is not what God wanted me to do. Write? Yes. Document a legacy of family life as I intended? Yes. Have posts that direct people to His glory? Yes. Spend hours away from Steve at night as I think of things to write? No. Spend time distracted during our homeschool with Brett thinking about what a good topic would be? No. So, I'm back to using it now as a kind of journal where I can unload some thoughts if I need to and as my scrapbook. I work in time once or twice a week if I can to update. Sometimes it's much (much) longer :) If people read (and a few surprisingly do) great. If not, that's okay too!

    You are an amazing woman and I admire the way that you seek to honor God in all of your actions, both in real life and in the blogsphere... Praying for you!

    Jenni

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  9. Whitney, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    I have also wrestled through similar questions of what this whole blogging thing is all about. It seems EVERYONE has a blog (or two!), and of course there's the pressure to keep up with all of them-- I hate that feeling when I run into an old friend/acquaintance and think "I'm afraid to ask you what's been going on in your life because I probably should have read it on your blog!" I find it overwhelming at times... and then I realize that I AM A PART OF IT!

    I recently evaluated my OWN blogging motives and wrote this "purpose statement"-- "My hope is not to add more noise to the cyber-space world but to encourage and challenge others with what God is doing in my life and around the globe. May He be honored."

    Our blogs CAN be honoring to Him, but, as you have also identified, if we are not INTENTIONAL about keeping them that way, they can SO EASILY become about US... constantly updating and promoting OUR name and OUR image for public consumption.

    This summer I was reading a novel about a journalist, and this line struck me, "In these past 2 or 3 years, I have become better at writing than living-- on the page, I'm perfectly charming but that's just a trick I learned. It has nothing to do with me."

    Let's keep blogging, but not stop LIVING.

    I love John 3:30, "HE MUST BECOME GREATER, i must become less." May that be true of our LIVES and our blogs!

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  10. Whitney, we have discussed this before at work so you know that I have the same struggle. I appreciate the honesty in your post and love the way that you articulated your purpose.

    You go girl!

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  11. Very well put. Once I hit this very wall in my life. Once I realized that I was staging my life for my blog. I would think, "what should we do today so that I can have something to blog about." That was ridiculous. Not that we can't go out of our way to live inspiring lives, but the motivation has to be to please the Lord. Otherwise we find ourselves trusting in the arm of the flesh, so to speak. I have found that if I use my blog to write what I feel Him prompting me to write I have time for it. When I forget Him, my life becomes too hectic for reflection and analysis. I do believe this 'world' can be used to glorify Our Father, as a means of inspiring one another to live well and to live for Him. But is not life. Life is so much more than the record we keep of it.

    I am glad you blog. You help me to remember to offer my life to Heavenly Father each day.

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